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As Movement For Higher Pay Grows, Report Examines Who Makes Less Than $15 in the U.S.

April 24, 2015 Comments off

As Movement For Higher Pay Grows, Report Examines Who Makes Less Than $15 in the U.S.
Source: National Employment Law Project

As workers across industries prepare for a historic day of strikes and protests for higher wages, a report by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) shows that nearly half, (42 percent) of workers in the US are paid less than $15 an hour.

The report, The Growing Movement for $15, which comes days before adjunct professors, fast-food, home care, child care, retail and airport workers are expected to protest in the largest-ever national mobilization for higher pay, provides comprehensive wage and demographic figures on the 42 percent of the U.S. workforce that earns less than $15 an hour.

The report finds that six in 10 of the largest occupations with median wages less than $15—including restaurant jobs, retail jobs and personal care jobs—are among the occupations projected to add the most jobs in coming years, shedding light on why the “Fight for $15” has spread quickly from the fast-food industry to include workers from various sectors of the economy.

The High Public Cost of Low Wages

April 16, 2015 Comments off

The High Public Cost of Low Wages
Source: University of California-Berkeley (Center for Labor Research and Education)

Even as the economy has at last begun to expand at a more rapid pace, growth in wages and benefits for most American workers has continued its decades-long stagnation. Real hourly wages of the median American worker were just 5 percent higher in 2013 than they were in 1979, while the wages of the bottom decile of earners were 5 percent lower in 2013 than in 1979. Trends since the early 2000s are even more pronounced. Inflation-adjusted wage growth from 2003 to 2013 was either flat or negative for the entire bottom 70 percent of the wage distribution. Compounding the problem of stagnating wages is the decline in employer-provided health insurance, with the share of non-elderly Americans receiving insurance from an employer falling from 67 percent in 2003 to 58.4 percent in 2013.

Stagnating wages and decreased benefits are a problem not only for low-wage workers who increasingly cannot make ends meet, but also for the federal government as well as the 50 state governments that finance the public assistance programs many of these workers and their families turn to. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of enrollees in America’s major public support programs are members of working families; the taxpayers bear a significant portion of the hidden costs of low-wage work in America.

This is the first report to examine the cost to the 50 states of public assistance programs for working families. We examine working families’ utilization of the health care programs Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as well as their enrollment in the basic household income assistance program Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF). Both of these programs operate with shared funding from the federal government and the states, and in this report we also examine the costs to the federal government of Medicaid/CHIP and TANF, as well as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the food stamps program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP). Our analysis includes only the cash assistance portion of TANF, and it does not include costs for state Earned Income Tax Credits, child care assistance, or other state-funded means-tested programs. Overall, we find that between 2009 and 2011 the federal government spent $127.8 billion per year on these four programs for working families and the states collectively spent $25 billion per year on Medicaid/CHIP and TANF for working families for a total of $152.8 billion per year. In all, more than half—56 percent—of combined state and federal spending on public assistance goes to working families.

New Report Projects When Women in Each U.S. State Will Achieve Equal Pay; Five States Won’t See Equal Pay until the Next Century

April 8, 2015 Comments off

New Report Projects When Women in Each U.S. State Will Achieve Equal Pay; Five States Won’t See Equal Pay until the Next Century
Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research

The first release from Status of Women in the States: 2015, a project of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), finds that, if current trends in narrowing the pay gap in the states continue, the date when women in the United States will achieve equal pay is 2058, but new projections for each state find this date is much further out in the future for women in many parts of the country. In some states, a woman born today likely will not see wage equality in her lifetime. The report finds that at the current rate, five states—West Virginia, Utah, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Wyoming—will not see equal pay until the next century. The study is the first ever to project when the wage gap will close for every state in the nation.

The report analyzes data on women’s employment and earnings, and provides state rankings and letter grades based on a composite index first developed by IWPR in 1996. Overall, the best place for women’s employment and earnings is the District of Columbia, with an overall grade of A, while the worst is West Virginia, with a grade of F. The grades take into account women’s status on the level of earnings, the gender wage gap, labor force participation, and women’s representation in professional and managerial occupations.

The Future of Work in the Age of the Machine

April 7, 2015 Comments off

The Future of Work in the Age of the Machine
Source: Brookings Institution

Recent developments in technology, including the proliferation of smart machines, networked communication, and digitization, have the potential to transform the economy in groundbreaking ways. But whether this rapid technological change will lead to increased economic prosperity that is broadly shared is far from clear.

The productivity of the U.S. economy has grown substantially since the 1970s, but the median American male worker’s wage rose by just 3 percent from 1979 to 2014 (DeNavas-Walt and Proctor 2014). This so called wage stagnation is not unique to the United States: over the past several decades, wages for middle-income jobs have increased at an anemic pace in developed countries around the globe. Meanwhile, the wages of the highest-skilled and highest-paid individuals have continued to increase steadily. There are growing gaps in wages and employment opportunities between these individuals and those at the middle and bottom of the wage distribution, and there is no reason to think that these labor market trends will be reversed any time soon.

Economists attribute tepid wage growth at the middle and bottom of the distribution to various secular trends, including enhanced globalization of the economy and the shrinking role of labor unions. But one factor in particular—technological change—might be playing an especially important role in driving the divergent labor market experiences of those with different types of skills.

Share of Unauthorized Immigrant Workers in Production, Construction Jobs Falls Since 2007

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Share of Unauthorized Immigrant Workers in Production, Construction Jobs Falls Since 2007
Source: Pew Research Center

In a reflection of changes in the overall economy since the Great Recession, the U.S. unauthorized immigrant workforce now holds fewer blue-collar jobs and more white-collar ones than it did before the 2007-2009 recession, but a solid majority still works in low-skilled service, construction and production occupations, according to new Pew Research Center estimates.

The size of the unauthorized immigrant labor force did not change from 2007 to 2012, but its makeup shifted slightly. The number of unauthorized immigrants in management or professional related jobs grew by 180,000, while the number in construction or production jobs fell by about 475,000, mirroring rises and declines in the overall U.S. economy. The share of all unauthorized immigrant workers with management and professional jobs grew to 13% in 2012 from 10% in 2007, and the share with construction or production jobs declined to 29% from 34%.

Despite these shifts, unauthorized immigrant workers remain concentrated in lower-skill jobs, much more so than U.S.-born workers, according to the new estimates, which are based on government data. In 2012, 62% held service, construction and production jobs, twice the share of U.S.-born workers who did. The 13% share with management or professional jobs is less than half of the 36% of U.S.-born workers in those occupations.

Reducing Poverty in the United States: Results of a Microsimulation Analysis of the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute Policy Package

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Reducing Poverty in the United States: Results of a Microsimulation Analysis of the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute Policy Package
Source: Urban Institute

A package of five policies—a transitional jobs (TJ) program, a $10.10 minimum wage, expanded earned income tax credits, a tax credit for senior citizens and people with disabilities, and expanded child care subsidies—could cut the national poverty rate by at least half. Using the TRIM3 microsimulation model and the Supplemental Poverty measure, the analysis shows the national poverty rate falling fall from 14.8 percent to either 7.4 percent or 6.3 percent, depending on the take-up rate assumed for the TJ program. Poverty is greatly reduced for all age groups and race/ethnicity groups.

CA — Wage Watch. A comparison of public-sector and private-sector wages

March 24, 2015 Comments off

Wage Watch. A comparison of public-sector and private-sector wages
Source: Canadian Federation of Independent Business

The broad public sector is a major employer in Canada. As a group, it employs 3.6 million Canadians—more than one job in five. Because the large share of these jobs are supported in whole or in part by tax revenues, it is certainly appropriate to question how representative and appropriate public sector salaries are in relation to private sector norms. Latest findings based on the 2011 National Household Survey, which represents earnings from 2010, show a continued and substantial gap in salary compensation in favour of government or public sector employees—even after adjustments for differences in occupation mix, age and education. The gaps grow even wider once employment benefits such as working hours and pensions are taken into account.The impacts on the public purse are significant, adding almost $20 billion to the hard costs of compensating the public sector in 2010.

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